VANCOUVER—Whether or not Huawei executive Wanzhou Meng is a flight risk will likely make up the bulk of the arguments presented at a bail hearing scheduled at B.C. Supreme Court Friday morning, according to a Vancouver immigration lawyer.
Lawyer Richard Kurland said it’ll be up to Meng and her legal team to prove she is not likely to flee Canada if she is released from custody. Meng is being sought by the U.S. Attorney’s Eastern District of New York office to face unspecified charges after being detained while transferring planes in Vancouver on Dec. 1.
Kurland said the review of whether or not Meng should remain behind bars while awaiting a later hearing to determine her extradition will likely take weeks. The extradition hearings themselves could take years depending on whether there are appeals, he said.
“You’ll have a burden to demonstrate you’re not a flight risk and that you’re going to comply with the process. The way it’s typically done is the person engages, at their own expense, 24-hour security, private guards that monitor them independently,” Kurland said.
“Second, you’ll also put together electronic monitoring and you need a place (to stay). So you have to have a residence where all of this is possible.”
“In the systems I know, someone like this would be highly likely to be in custody while their matter is being adjudicated. They’re such a flight risk, and because we know that if she leaves Canada, she’ll go to China and she’ll be beyond the reach of process,” Cunningham said.
“I would be shocked if she were released on bail.”
Meng is listed as the deputy chairwoman and chief financial officer of Huawei and is the daughter of Zhengfei Ren, the founder of the company. China’s embassy in Ottawa opposed the detention and called for Meng’s “personal freedom” to be restored.
The Canadian Extradition Act requires that a person must be facing charges for an offence considered criminal in both Canada and the country seeking extradition. It’s anticipated that the offence Meng is accused of could be revealed during the bail hearing. However, the Globe and Mail has reported that Meng is facing allegations she violated U.S. trade sanctions against Iran.
Cunningham suspected Meng’s arrest could be seen as a warning against those who defy U.S. sanctions, which cover Iran’s shipping, financial and energy sectors.
“Within the Trump administration, there are powerful cross-currents here,” he said. “Because they very much want to punish Iran by limiting trade with Iran, and by punishing companies that violate those sanctions.”
But the move could also have repercussions with Canadian-Chinese relations.
“I could imagine the Chinese government could be putting a great deal of pressure on the Canadian government,” Cunningham said.
“There’s a big disagreement right now between the U.S. and its closest allies, I believe Canada being one of them, over how to interpret what sanctions ought to be enforced against Iran and what sanctions should not.”
Kurland, meanwhile, wonders whether Canadian business interests in China may be the target of any retaliation by the Chinese.
“Is it riskier (now) for Canadian business people to visit China? What if China decides to retaliate with the nab and grab of a senior Canadian business person in China? Now what?” Kurland said.
Perrin Grauer is a Vancouver-based reporter covering community issues and Canada’s drug policies. Follow him on Twitter: perringrauer
Jeremy Nuttall is the lead investigative reporter for StarMetro Vancouver. Follow him on Twitter: @Nuttallreports
Michael Mui is a Vancouver-based investigative reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @mui24hours
Joanna Chiu is assistant managing editor of StarMetro Vancouver. Follow her on Twitter: @joannachiu